As the end to the harvest season draws near, GroGuru CEO Patrick Henry sees an opportunity to plant the seeds for his San Diego agtech’s future growth. Before the soil becomes hardened, covered with frost, he hopes to sell field crop farmers on the company’s sensors, which can be buried underground to measure soil moisture, salinity and temperature close to where plants take root.
During this time, the fallow season, Henry said it makes sense to bury the sensors because farmers can measure how much water is being contributed from the winter snowfall and spring rains. That can determine how farmers irrigate their fields.
“This is really, really valuable for them,” he said. “We’re expecting a significant ramp post-harvest, going from the beginning of this month to November.”
GroGuru isn’t the only company applying sensors to agriculture, but its technology is unique in that its sensors can be left underground — no need to dig them up with the harvest. Henry said they have a battery life of five years.
The company started in 2014 with an idea from founder Farooq Anjum, a former Qualcomm engineer. At first, he was just looking to find a way to make his home garden grow better. But then he saw a better application in commercial agriculture. Anjum currently serves as the GroGuru’s chief technology officer. Henry joined as CEO last year, after serving as an early investor and advisor to the company.
The company has built momentum in the last year. Henry said the company deployed its sensors to more than 50 sites last spring, predominately with field crops such as corn, soybeans and wheat.
“There are 8 million acres of irrigated corn just in the state of Nebraska alone,” Henry said. “There’s a huge opportunity there for us.”
GroGuru also recently closed a $2.9 million seed round, including $105,000 the company received from investors participating in the San Diego Angel Conference. It is using the additional funds to build out its engineering and sales teams, and beef up its crop science research. The company is also working with equipment dealers to sell its devices, and contract manufactures to ensure it can scale up the production of its devices as more customers seek its products.
Moore On Board
EvoNexus CEO Rory Moore also joined GroGuru as a board member in July, the first time that he had ever joined a company’s board while it was still in incubation. Moore has a background in semiconductor technology, and also grew up on a farm, making his experience a natural fit for the company.
“I see it as a tremendous endorsement of our company and our prospects,” Henry said. “It’s been great for us. He’s been supportive from day one and he continues to be a bigger contributor as a board member to the company.”